There are some people in racing whose interests and love for its four-legged participants will transcend codes.
Gaye Gauci-Marchant (pictured above) and her husband, former jockey and now assistant horse trainer Ernie Marchant, both have a sincere understanding of animals, which underpins their very existence.
Gaye’s long list of trail-blazing racing achievements have caught the eye of many internationally astute racing administrators as well as Group One winning horse trainers at home in Australia.
However, what many racing people may not know is how vitally significant greyhounds are to Gaye and Ernie’s lives.
Gaye was one of Victoria’s earliest licensed professional female apprentice jockeys in the 1970s under her maiden name – Gaye Mullins.
In addition to working life as a jockey, which was ground-breaking for Australian women during the 70s and 80s, Gaye also took on marriage and motherhood amongst international racing stints including Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the Middle East, all contributing to a full and rewarding racing life.
Not forgetting Gaye’s own successful stable as a horse trainer locally, Gaye is revered by many across the globe for her animal welfare standards and contribution to both the thoroughbred and Purebred Arabian racing worlds.
The couple have returned to Australia and are currently commuting from their Killawarra farm in north-eastern Victoria due to Coronavirus, and retired greyhounds have become part of Gaye and Ernie’s extraordinary racing life.
Gaye and Ernie recall many fond memories of a greyhound brood-matron that was the first of several successive generations of dogs that would lay claim to an almighty piece of their hearts.
A greyhound named Ringer’s Delight (Awesome Assassin x Belle Quartet) won a total of 10 races from 44 starts and would also go on to be a very handy brood-matron and granddam whose progeny won over 280 races during the mid to late 2000s.
Wangaratta-based greyhound trainer Phillip Clark had Ringer’s Delight in his kennel until she was eight years of age, having produced several litters.
However, Ringer’s Delight’s last litter of puppies unfortunately saw only one pup survive and she was given the name Lonely Delight.
Phillip, as fond as he was of his beautiful Ringer’s Delight, knew that Gaye and Ernie would be able to provide a wonderful, loving family environment for her.
With her breeding days behind her and having moved into Gaye and Ernie’s care, Ringer’s Delight took on the adoptive name of Tess.
Tess was the first of four greyhounds (so far) to be a part of Gaye and Ernie’s racing clan. Six years of love and joy was bestowed on Tess as she saw out her later years only to sadly have to be euthanized the same day as Gaye’s beloved racehorse Dancing Jug.
Gaye and Ernie would never let any animal suffer, and as blindness and other age related afflictions had taken their toll on Tess and Dancing Jug, who had become great mates, Gaye and Ernie bravely had the pair put to sleep on the same day during December 2015.
So both horse and hound would remain close together forever, the pair were buried under one of Gaye’s favourite trees on their farm.
Phillip has since gone on to provide further descendants of Ringer’s Delight to Gaye and Ernie, including Addy’s Delight, one of Ringer’s Delight’s daughters, and Darla’s Delight, who is the daughter of Lonely Delight, making her Ringer’s Delight’s grand-daughter.
Although Darla’s Delight showed plenty of promise in her race trials, on the racetrack her aversion to other dogs when stepping away from the boxes was perplexing, causing her to shy away from her competitors mid race.
Eventually her racing career was deemed futile, and Phillip was more than happy to see the timid greyhound also find her way to Gaye and Ernie’s loving home.
In August last year, Ernie was involved in a terrible track fall. While galloping a horse one morning at Caulfield, the horse came down and fell on Ernie, severely breaking one of his legs.
Ernie has undergone several operations in an attempt to rectify the damage from the fall.
While Ernie has spent time recuperating, greyhound Darla’s Delight, now known about the house as Lola, has become a great emotional support for Ernie.
And while normal working arrangements are greatly affected by Ernie’s injuries placing further untold stress on the couple, Ernie recently confided in Gaye – “We needed Lola, as much as she needed us”.
Lola has formed a bond with Gaye and Ernie, as strong as any other animal that the husband and wife team have had in their care.